As carrier operators continue to further develop regional services within East Asia, the intra-Far East trade is still going to dictate demand levels for container vessels this year. According to Alphaliner records, by the end of this month, a minimum of 33 brand new intra-Far East weekly loops are going to be launched. The 33 services will translate into a total of 98 ships, thus managing to surpass all of the other trade lanes in regard to the number of vessels taken in.
A large part of the new loops emphasizes on intra regional trading, whereas a small number of services are feeder-focused. The vessel demand regarding the intra-Far East sector spreads across the 500-5,000 TEU size range, thus driving up these ships’ respective charter rates. Around half of the ships taken are 1,000-2000 TEU in size, which is rather typical and does not demonstrate a change of common practice. Ships of this type provide access to a list of popular ports that are, however, size-restricted – Haiphong, Bangkok and Yangon. An additional 27 vessels exceeding the 2,000 TEU mark have also become operational on the North Asia – South East Asia routes.
This year, the biggest vessels that are employed for the purposes of the new intra-Far East services are of the 4,500 TEU mark, and they are primarily being used by OOCL on its North China – Pusan-SE ASIA (NPS) service route, that was started in January, initially with 2,500 TEU units, but the company has subsequently opted in for using 4,500 TEU vessels in the last two months.
Transpacific trade is the driving force behind the demand for bigger vessels, especially when regarding the FE-USEC route. Six brand new FE-USED strings that have been launched since the month of April this year are going to add roughly 60 vessels on their route alone, and that includes 50 panamax ships.